§ 14. Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further steps the Government intend to take to reduce hospital waiting lists.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
The NHS Management Executive is to agree tough targets for the reduction of long waits with all 14 regional health authorities. We are also continuing the special waiting list fund to help health authorities reduce the number of patients who wait excessively.
§ Mr. Wigley
As the ENT in-patient waiting list in my area is 98 weeks and worsening, whereas ophthalmology, which has been given additional resources, has a reducing waiting list, will the Minister accept the general thesis that if more resources were given to hospitals, the waiting lists would lessen?
§ Mrs. Bottomley
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is on the Treasury Bench and I know that he will note the hon. Gentleman's points. The numbers waiting for a long time have reduced. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware that 50 per cent. of hospital admissions are immediate. The average wait for those who come in off the waiting list is six weeks and we have seen great progress on the numbers who have to wait for over a year. We have made it clear that we want to take more time and care over reducing waiting times. At a time of increasing activity, it would be wrong for the hon. Gentleman not to recognise the progress that is being made.